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‘Earth Girls Are Easy’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 12, 1989

 


Director:
Julien Temple
Cast:
Geena Davis;
Jeff Goldblum;
Julie Brown;
Jim Carrey;
Damon Wayans;
Michael McKean;
Charles Rocket
PG
Parental guidance suggested


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"Earth Girls Are Easy," a frisky extraterrestrial romance starring Geena Davis, is the movie equivalent of cheap champagne -- even though it's lousy, it still gives you tickles up the nose. Set in Southern California, the movie is a bauble, bright with pop-your-eyes-out colors, but it has a message for all the women of the world who complain that there are no good men out there: Watch the skies!

As the Valley manicurist Valerie, Davis doesn't so much scan the clouds as have her head permanently stuck in them. Trapped in a bum relationship with a philandering surgeon, Valerie looks as if her noggin should have party umbrellas sticking out of it. Not exactly a coffee achiever, Valerie is sweetly naive and trusting; it would never cross her mind that her fiance' (Charles Rocket) is palpating someone else. When she finds out, though, she breaks off the engagement and boots him out of the house, and then goes on a rampage, busting up everything in sight. The next day, while she's mooning by the swimming pool in her fuchsia bikini, trying to dispel all the negative energy, a spaceship driven by three brightly colored, fur-covered spacemen drops into the water, looking for all the world like a gigantic bathtub toy.

Semiplused, she, like, invites them in. "Oooooh," she says, scoping out the contents of the fridge, "not much here ... but I didn't expect to be having aliens for lunch." Later, she reads off a tin of instant pudding, "Just add water. Uhmmm, too much work." Davis' delivery in these scenes is a sort of bi-channel stream of consciousness -- she manages to talk to others and to herself at the same time.

Davis is not only the star of "Earth Girls," she's its hostess and goodwill ambassador, too -- she's virtually the whole show. But still, this is not exactly a dream role for her. For all its likable ditsiness, the film, which was directed by the British filmmaker Julien Temple, is maddeningly listless, especially in the beginning. Temple, who started out making videos, can't find the rhythm of his scenes; unless they're set to music, they don't have any narrative momentum to keep them going. Watching them, you begin to feel panicky, as if you were trapped inside a movie that had run aground and was taking on water fast.

Figuring that perhaps her E.T.s are a tad outlandish (even for the Valley), Valerie takes them over to see her friend Candy Pink (Julie Brown), owner of the Curl Up & Dye beauty parlor, for a make-over. Once the outer-space fuzz is buzzed, three extremely datable boys emerge. The hunkiest is the ship's captain, played by Jeff Goldblum, who immediately draws a bead on Valerie. Though she's curious, like any right-thinking woman she needs convincing. "I'm from the Valley, you're an alien, we might not even be anatomically compatible."

From this point on the picture develops just as you might expect. Brown (who, along with Charlie Coffey and Terrence E. McNally, wrote the film's script and some of its musical numbers) gives the film a jolt of sexy energy, but Temple keeps losing the step.

Goldberg and Davis have a few tender moments together (he does a marvelous riff off of Jerry Lewis' "Buddy Love" from "The Nutty Professor") while the captain's shipmates (Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans) get into bunches o' trouble on their way to beach. But even at its most rambunctious, the picture just never seems to get going, and if the performers weren't so consistently charming you'd be tempted to pack it in early.

Because of its cast "Earth Girls" never completely falls apart, even though it threatens to. Davis gives the film its spirit, and there's something tonic about her airheaded dithering. You could listen to her for hours, never understanding a word, and never really caring.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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